Some people think they were born at the wrong time; adventurers wish they had lived in 900 AD when Vikings sailed the seas, and fleshy women yearn for the 1600s when their bodies would have been the feminine ideal in Rubens’ paintings. I’m fine with the current time, but think I was born into the wrong movie. My life is a Low-Budget Documentary, interspersed with Tear-Jerker Drama and Slapstick Farce. I should live in a Hollywood Musical.
In a Hollywood Musical, it’s perfectly acceptable to break into song (and/or dance) at the least provocation. When you do that in real life, people look at you strange. Believe me, I know. And while it’s great that under Obamacare my insurance will pay 100% for mental health counseling, I don’t think I could swing the $6750 deductible if I were committed to the psych ward.
When I was a teenager I saw “Fame,” a gritty musical about the trials and tribulations of students at a New York high school for the performing arts. I came out singing and dancing, yearning for stardom. My high school taught useless stuff like History, Algebra and French. The “Fame” kids took cool classes, like Dancing On Cars and Legwarmers 101. Clearly, my parents’ lack of foresight in not being gritty New Yorkers torpedoed my chances.
I know I would have shone in our high school musicals, but I wound up in the orchestra pit, fumbling through the impossible scores of Broadway classics like L’il Abner and Guys & Dolls while gazing longingly up at the stage where I rightfully belonged. Some might say my lack of high school stardom was my own fault, primarily because I was too chicken to actually try out for any parts, but as a crucial pillar of the band, I felt it was my duty to support the teacher, Miss Fletcher. Talent thwarted yet again.
I can carry a tune – at least I think I can. But, surprisingly, nobody has ever urged me to chuck this work-a-day world and head to Broadway.
I can dance, too – if we count the Bee Gees-inspired gyrations that take place in my living room and at weddings after a couple glasses of wine. I’m not classically trained, though. With 9 kids to tend, Mom concentrated on getting food on the table more than schlepping us to extra-curriculars like dance lessons. I gathered my courage and signed up for beginner ballet when I was 16, and at the very first lesson I was clearly head and shoulders above the rest of the class. They were all 5-years-old. My non-limber, already over-ripe woman’s body towered over a sea of tiny, pink munchkins. I could barely touch the ground, while they could do so with their noses. I quit after the first lesson.
When my kids were little, they got a kick out of me singing and twirling them around at the grocery store. When they got a bit older? Not so much. During their mouthy preteen years, nothing got them to behave quicker than me threatening to burst into the opening scene from Oklahoma right there in the produce section.
I’d pretty much resigned myself to a musical-free life, but recent events have me reconsidering. I found a pair of tap shoes at Goodwill that were just my size. They’re practically brand new – their prior owner was probably a little old lady who only used them to tap to church on Sundays. If this isn’t a sign from the universe that I am destined for musical stardom, I don’t know what is. So far I’ve only taken them for an introductory spin around my kitchen, but I’m sure I’ll figure out how to tap-dance like a whiz in no time.
The next time you’re at the grocery store and it sounds like Shirley Temple is in the frozen foods aisle, who knows? It could be my big debut.